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"I am looking forward to pinning on the number and I especially want to shine at the Paris-Tours, since that is a race that suits me well.  I’d love to pull off one last big coup, but I will also be ready to put all my effor...

Photo: ASO / B. Bade
















12.10.2014 @ 13:08 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Today 40-year-old Sebastien Hinault will end his career in Paris-Tours. The Frenchman took his time to reflect on his 18-year career before he brings it all to a close late in the afternoon.


IAM Cycling is currently experiencing a special week to finish off its second season in the professional peloton.  Having already seen Thomas Löfkvist, just 30 years old, retire this past Sunday at the end of the Tour of Lombardy after ten years as a pro, his teammate the past two season, Sébastien Hinault, 40 years old, will be bidding farewell to his peers this week at the Paris-Bourges and Paris-Tours.  It is true that Hinault could quickly bounce into the role as directeur sportif.

- Sébastien Hinault, what are your current feelings as you are looking to end your career as a professional bike race?
- I would say that for now I am trying not to dwell on it too much.  I’m still in the heat of the moment, so to speak.  But I’m sure it will feel very strange when it comes time to start winter training as usual, but I will not be needing to do that.  But the decision has been made and a new page is turned.  Certainly, I will have a heavy heart on Sunday night, though.


- Can you explain why you made your decision?
- I celebrated my 40th birthday earlier this year.  And I said to myself that this might be a good time to say goodbye.  Strictly speaking, I had not set this date in my head as a sort of cut-off time, especially since even after 18 years in the pros I still feel pretty good.  But I took stock of all I’ve done, and am pretty satisfied with my accomplishments.  I had all but decided to do this year too.  I’m healthy and I still feel good on the bike.  At Eurométropole, I just missed out on the top-10 overall and was only short of a few bonus seconds in the sprints to accomplish that. 


- So was it your body then that said ‘stop’?
- Not for the moment, and that’s basically why I decided to stop before the body really gave-out on me.


- After riding for French teams like GAN, Credit Agricole, AG2R, why did you come to finish you career on a Swiss team?
- Joining a project again with Serge Beucherie was just too tempting since I have spent a large part of my career with him.  Besides, I was interested in experiencing the culture of a foreign team.  And I have not regretted my decision for one second.  On IAM Cycling I was like a fish in water.


- Do you really feel the sense of family that so many riders comment on when talking about this team?
- Yes, absolutely.  But that comes mostly from the founder Michel Thétaz, who has remained very close with us.  He wanted to create a family spirit and he knew how to do that at the first meeting in December 2013.  It’s still pretty amazing to think about how well we mixed considering there were something like 12 different nationalities among us.  We meshed instantly.


- In this veritable Tower of Babel, have you had trouble sometimes expressing yourself?
- Not at all.  I felt comfortable from the beginning.  It is true that you have to have a good knowledge of English.  But that’s all fine.  Of course there always will be some guys who have stronger friendships than others, but that’s the same on every team, even when everyone is French.  And once we’re in the race together, there is no question of solidarity.


- Is there any area where you could see improvement in IAM Cycling?
- It is always possible to improve.  But from the first I was blown away by how well and quickly everyone adapted despite a lack of experience racing at this level.  There were of course a few hiccups, but the level really is worthy of a WorldTour team.


- Can you talk about your best memory?
- I could not possibly list them all, I have known so many great and beautiful moments.  With the exception of the Olympics, I have raced all the biggest races, and won some pretty good ones for myself.  As for the bad memories, I have already erased them, and mostly they concern non-selections.  I was rarely forced to stop because of injury, I have absolutely no regrets and I would say that I have enjoyed every moment.  If anyone had told me before I started that I would last 18 years, I would have laughed.  This has happened all very quickly and it is only now upon reflection that I am aware of my incredible longevity.


- How do you see the rest of your career playing-out?  In addition to your store, will you be taking on the job of directeur sportif?
- I no longer need to carry my state certificate since during my time at the University of Strasbourg, I prepared for that.  With that qualification, I received permission to coach and train riders.  And although I will no longer be a professional rider, I will retain my passion for cycling.  I am ready to start out on the road since I have this lifestyle already established with my wife and children.  


- Will you be inspired for your last two races as a pro?
- I am looking forward to pinning on the number and I especially want to shine at the Paris-Tours, since that is a race that suits me well.  I’d love to pull off one last big coup, but I will also be ready to put all my efforts in the service of the team.  That has never been a problem for me since it has been how I have ridden ever since I started my career.


IAM for Paris-Tours:

Marcel Aregger (S), Sylvain Chavanel (F), Heinrich Haussler (Aus), Sébastien Hinault (F), Sondre Holst Enger (Nor), Roger Kluge (Ger), Vicente Reynes (Sp), Aleksejs Saramotins (Lat).
Directeur sportif: Mario Chiesa.



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